July/August 2012 Prayer Letter

 Dear Friends and Family in Christ Jesus,

Greetings from the Popchenko Family!

In our last letter, we asked you to pray that two of my assistants, Irina and Sasha, would be able to be more involved in the project. God has begun to answer our prayers. Sasha’s son has joined him on his job sharing his load and, as a result, Sasha expects to be able to spend more time in translation work. Please pray for the details of this situation to be resolved and continue to pray for his wife’s health problems. Also, another assistant has rejoined us after a few months’ absence and is now checking the gospel of Matthew against the Greek text. Finally, a five-person reading committee is now working on different portions of the translation. Irina’s current obligations still do not allow for much participation, so please keep her situation in your prayers. Thank you for continuing to uphold our team in prayer as we make the word of God available to our people.

I am helping my assistant Sasha by installing stairs to his newly built second floor (with the help of one of his younger boys).

The work keeps moving along and now with God’s help I was able to finish the first draft of 11 chapters of 1 Corinthians. As usual, Bible translation has many challenges. One such passage was 1 Corinthians 6:4, If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church., a verse of immense practical value for believers. All Ukrainian and Russian versions have “you set them to judge…” while the KJV has “set them to judge…”. This variation results from the fact that the Greek word can have either meaning. If the verb is taken as “you set them”, then the “least esteemed” would refer to non-Christians and the verse would express indignation at the practice of going to secular judges. However, there is a problem with this interpretation. The Greek word for “least esteemed” literally means “despised” and it is unlikely that Paul would characterize nonbelievers so disdainfully as “despised” by the church. Further, the same word in 1:28 refers to Christians (“things which are despised”) to characterize the world’s contempt for those whom God has chosen and it is most likely that the same meaning is intended here. So, if the verb here means “set them” and “least esteemed” refers to Christians, then Paul here suggests to set humble, lowly Christians as arbiters in “smallest matters” (6:2), in “things that pertain to this life” (6:4). This way Paul gives practical advice as to how to resolve conflicts among Christians without going to court.

For a vacation this year, we went to a place in the Carpathian Mountains where springs of mineral water are supposed to help kidney problems. I have not been able to have follow-up tests done since we got back, so I cannot yet say if the water helped. While on vacation, we were able to distribute some gospels of John and tracts among the many vacationers. One particularly good opportunity was to place the literature near the springs where all the people came to drink mineral water. We found this way to be better then just passing around the gospels. Oftentimes people would reluctantly take a gospel, obviously not planning to read it. However at the springs, only those who were interested took them. Pray for them to find the living water which springs up into everlasting life. In the village we stayed at, we found a small Baptist church where I had an opportunity to preach on Sunday morning. There we also met a Christian family and the husband was captivated by our magnetic scripture bumper stickers (these are not available in Ukraine) and wanted them, too. This was refreshing since many Christians in Ukraine are too ashamed of their testimony as reckless drivers to put scripture signs on their cars. (Actually, almost everybody here drives recklessly but Christians are expected to be different.)

Preaching at the local Baptist church

Sashko is placing gospels of John at the spring

Mariolatry is everywhere in this part of Ukraine. The inscription on the statue says, “We magnify you, most holy virgin, mother of Christ, our God, and glorify your most glorious patronage.”

Mama’s Corner (by Wendy)

The weather was delightful on our vacation, which is really saying something, since the weather in the Carpathian Mountains is very unpredictable. It was nice to get away from the stress and routine of everyday life for a few days. We did have a few ‘bumps in the road’, though… the main one being the theft of my laptop computer. Some professional crooks stole it right out of our room! They were identified on the surveillance cameras but have not been apprehended yet. Even if they are caught, we realize that my laptop is probably long gone. We are at least thankful that it was my computer and not Yura’s that was stolen.

Good catch, Sashko!

Watch out for those bears roaming the streets of western Ukraine!

A local man is giving us a ride across the river

The wagon train is ready to pull out…

As our harvest came in, Andriy was working with me, learning when the different vegetables are ready to pick (we had to have a little lesson on this subject after he picked several microscopic cucumbers!). He also celebrated his 4th birthday last week and considers himself to be one of the ‘big boys’ now. I got a few simple workbooks for him to start this year, so Andriy is telling everyone how he is starting “shkool” like Sashko and Yurko.

For those who don’t already know, Matviy’s diagnosis came down to a simple case of rickets. Vitamin D and a few other supplements were prescribed and we have already seen significant results: he has cut three more teeth and is running, not walking, everywhere!

Praise the Lord for healthy children!

Thank you all for the cards and kind wishes for my birthday. I feel more blessed than ever before and thank God for the wonderful family, loving friends, and gracious salvation He has given to me. What more could a person ask for? May you each be rewarded a hundred times over for your love and kindness to our family.

Thank you for your continued prayers and financial support that help to make this ministry possible.

Your Fellow-servants for Jesus’ sake,

Yura, Wendy, Sashko, Yurko, Andriy, and Matviy Popchenko

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